Student Support

Maintaining Your F-1 Visa

For International Students

Guidelines to follow to keep in good standing.

While studying in the United States, it is important to maintain your student visa status.

If you fail to comply with any of the below guidelines, it may have a direct impact on your student and immigration statuses.

Please contact your International Student Advisor whenever you have questions, or before you take any actions that may impact your F-1 visa status.

International Students

If you are studying in the United States on an F-1 student visa, you must follow specific rules and regulations to maintain your status. The responsibility for remaining in status at all times is yours alone. It is not the school’s responsibility, and it is not the responsibility of your International Student Advisor to keep you in status.

To maintain student status at UCLA Extension:

Your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future at all times. If your passport is going to expire, contact your embassy or consulate in the U.S. to find out how to renew it.

Your I-20 is valid for the length of your program and is “active” only when you are actively enrolling full-time in your program. If you complete your program before the end date written on your I-20, your I-20 will be shortened to that new date.

When you enter the United States with an I-20 and F-1 visa, the Customs and Border Patrol officer at the port of entry writes “D/S” on your entry stamp in your passport meaning “Duration of Status.” This means that your stay in the U.S. is lawful so long as you maintain your valid F-1 visa status. You can remain in the U.S. past the expiration date on your F-1 visa as long as you continue to maintain valid F-1 status.  If you travel out of the U.S. after your F-1 visa has expired, you must apply for a new visa while you are outside of the U.S. You cannot renew your visa while you are in the U.S. If you fall out of status, your lawful time in the U.S. will end and you must plan to leave immediately.

You must enroll in at least 12 units of coursework in your certificate program each quarter. Most UCLA Extension courses carry 4 units each so you can enroll in three courses. Please note however some programs include courses that carry different unit values so you need to make sure you are enrolled in 12 units in total every quarter. Enroll in every course for a letter grade.

We recommend that you enroll early. Courses fill quickly as soon as the quarterly catalog becomes available. 

An earned grade of F (if you go to the classes, but don’t grasp the course material) does not harm your F-1 visa status. That course will not, however, count toward earning your certificate. If you fail a required course, you will have to take it again.

If it is your last quarter and you need fewer than 12 units to complete the program, you can drop below the 12 units minimum during that quarter only.

If in a given quarter your quarterly GPA falls below 1.5, or your cumulative GPA falls below 2.0, you will be subject to academic probation. Subsequent quarters below a 2.0 will result in academic disqualification. These academic statuses will have an effect on your immigration status. Please contact ISS if you have further questions about academic probation or disqualification and how these will affect your immigration status.

If you need more time to complete your certificate program, contact ISS immediately to discuss your options to extend your program. I-20 expiration is dictated by the program end date listed on Form I-20.

If you do not request a program extension before your program end date, you will be considered out of status and need to plan to depart the U.S.

Please contact ISS if you need an extension or find yourself out of status.

If you decide you want to change to a new certificate program either during your current program or after completing your current program, please contact ISS or IP-GEO to learn about the application process.

Please note that if you are starting a new program after completing a previous one, ISS will require new financial documentation before producing the new Form I-20 with your new program information.

You are required to have a travel signature from an ISS advisor on your I-20 to re-enter the U.S. Please bring your I-20 into the office or complete the I-20 travel signature application before you travel. To re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad, you will need to present your I-20 with the travel signature and passport with an unexpired F-1 visa. If your visa is expired, you will have to apply for a new F-1 at the U.S. embassy while you are outside of the U.S.

Please note that Summer is not an automatic vacation quarter at UCLA Extension. We offer four quarters of courses annually.  You become eligible for a vacation quarter after you have completed three quarters of F-1 study in your program at UCLA Extension.  For example, if you begin in the Spring quarter, you become eligible for a vacation quarter the following Winter quarter.

To find out if you qualify for a vacation quarter, please contact your ISS advisor one quarter before taking the vacation.  

If you need to leave the U.S. for one quarter but don’t qualify for a vacation quarter, you may be eligible for a leave of absence (LOA).  Please contact your ISS advisor to discuss the possibility of taking an LOA outside of the U.S.  Or if you have a medical condition that prevents you from attending classes, you may be eligible for a medical reduced course load (MRCL) while remaining in the U.S.  To qualify you must provide a doctor’s note stating that you cannot attend courses — the dates must be specified in this letter.  You can be authorized for an MRCL for a maximum of one calendar year (12 months) and the MRCL must be granted each quarter individually.

If you need to leave the U.S. before completing the certificate program, we will terminate your I-20 and you will have 15 days to leave the U.S. 

If you decide to transfer to a different SEVP-approved institution, contact ISS to discuss the details. If the transfer is happening before you end your program, please coordinate with your new school to ensure that you can start in your desired timeframe. If the transfer is happening after you complete your program, you must transfer your I-20 to the new school before the end of your 60-day grace period and start your study there in the next available session, no later than five months from the end of your program at UCLA Extension. 

Please provide a copy of the acceptance letter from the new school to your ISS advisor and request that they transfer your I-20 to the new school.

Your local residential address must always be current in your SEVIS. Let your ISS advisor know your new address within 10 days of your move. Please make sure that your preferred email address is always current in your UCLA Extension student portal profile. This is the main way that we communicate with you regarding F-1 visa regulations and your individual visa status. You may fall out of status and have your I-20 terminated if you do not receive important emails from us. 

If you would like to add a dependent spouse or child to your I-20, please provide a new financial certification showing sufficient funds for yourself plus your spouse and/or children. We will issue F-2 I-20s for each dependent which will enable them to apply for F-2 visas.

You have a 60-day grace period after your program end date. Your program end date is the final day of classes when you have completed all requirements for your program. During the 60-day grace period, you can prepare to depart the U.S., travel within the U.S., or transfer your I-20 to another school. On day 61, your immigration record auto-completes, and you no longer hold legal presence in the U.S. 

Please note that if you travel outside of the U.S. during the 60 days you cannot re-enter in F-1 visa status. If you leave the U.S. at any point during the 60-day grace period, you forfeit the remainder of the 60 days. If you travel out of the U.S. during the 60 days and need to re-enter the U.S., you would have to do so with a B2 tourist visa if you have one in your passport, or a visa waiver if you are from an ESTA country.

Federal visa regulations state that F-1 students can only enroll in one online course counting toward their full-time enrollment every quarter. There is no flexibility in this regulation.

As an F-1 student, you are required to have qualifying health insurance for the duration of your studies at UCLA Extension. Starting in Fall 2022, all international students will be automatically enrolled in a health insurance plan that meets all standards for international students in the U.S. The cost of this insurance is included in your student fees.

You are able to work on the UCLA campus while an F-1 student at UCLA Extension. Student jobs at UCLA are highly impacted and it is difficult to find a campus job. We don’t guarantee that you will find a campus job.  

To do an internship, you must consult with your certificate program advisor first. If the internship is a required part of your certificate curriculum and is approved you will need to contact your ISS advisor to be granted Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization prior to registering for the internship class and engaging in any employment activity. Please visit the CPT/OPT information page for more details on internships and work authorizations.

Contact International Student Services

Speak to a representative. Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm (PT)

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